Ice Church Consecrated in Romania Freezing Your Mass Off

Most churches in Europe are built for the ages. But not the new house of God erected in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. In fact, it'll probably melt away before May.

Ancient cathedrals are often rather chilly. But a new church built in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania -- and consecrated on Sunday -- promises to be downright frigid. It was constructed entirely out of blocks of ice.

The church, located 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) up in the mountains of southern Transylvania, is the brainchild of Arnold Klingeis, who is trying to attract tourists to the mountain cabin he helps operate on Lake Balea. And it's not the only ice structure he has created. Worshippers might choose to stay in the 12-room ice hotel next door (room service available). A night in one of the freezing rooms -- on an ice bed no less -- costs a mere €50 on the weekend.

"It's cold, but one can survive it. It's more intended as an experience," Klingeis, a Romanian-born German, told SPIEGEL ONLINE adding that, when it is minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) outside, the only slightly below freezing temperatures in the hotel feel almost cozy. "The idea is to promote tourism to the Carpathians and attract attention to the region. It's a marketing project and it has been very successful."

The church took 30 workers one month to build using ice taken from the frozen-over Lake Balea. Klingeis is hoping to keep it open until at least April. He is planning an exhibition of ice sculptures as well, which is scheduled to be finished by the beginning of February.

The new church includes an altar made entirely from ice as well as relief carvings chiselled into the walls.

The pews too offer but cold comfort to the faithful. But that hasn't stopped a number of faithful from inquiring about holding baptisms or weddings in the frigid house of God.

Only Catholics and Protestants need apply, however. The Romanian Orthodox Church is not amused by the new structure. "We can't accept any churches that melt," Laurentiu Streza, the Metropolitan for Transylvania, said according to the dpa news agency. "Orthodox churches are built for hundreds, or even for thousands of years on solid ground. They don't thaw out in a few months."

The Lutheran pastor Kurt Boltres on the other hand is a fan and thinks it’s a "wonderful idea."


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